I’ve been following this with interest, and though I don’t have a strong opinion on this bird, I have a couple thoughts. To me, looking closely at the photo, the bill does look like it is slightly bicoloured. Not exactly yellow, but the lower mandible looks distinctly lighter than the upper. In general the bill looks light for Phoebe. Additionally, the bird just doesn’t seem right for a phoebe to me, something about the proportions and posture.
If this was in the west, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a Western Wood-Pewee based on the posture, wing-bars, and face.
Since the habitat was right, I probably would lean towards Willow for this bird….
> On Jul 6, 2020, at 12:32 PM, Fred and Chris Pratt <pipit...> wrote:
> I had been waiting for somebody to point out that the dark bill of the flycatcher mystery bird does not fit an (Eastern) Wood-Pewee, which, so far as I know, always has a yellowish lower mandible. I am not proposing this bird as a Western Wood-Pewee - but a dark bill is considered one way to separate Western from Eastern.
> The suggestion of a Phoebe reminds me of a Vermont Records Committee discussion I have previously referenced when committee members divided just about evenly over whether a photo was an image of an empi or a phoebe. Interestingly, when I first studied David's photo, I was more inclined to think the bird might be a Willow Fly, which often has little or no eye ring. And I do sort of see faint wing bars on the bird David photographed. But, as Peter Riley observed, a Willow also should have a bi-colored bill. The bill color and overall plumage coloration of David's bird do seem fine for Phoebe. It would be nice if the cap seemed a tad darker...
> Fred Pratt
> On 7/6/2020 10:46 AM, anneboby wrote:
>> Two aspects of this bird augur against Eastern Wood-Pewee: bill coloration and foot size. Bill coloration is commonly illustrated in field guides, foot size not.
>> This bird has an all dark bill consistent with Eastern Phoebe. The Pewee has a bicolored bill consisting of a dark maxilla (the top portion) and a yellow mandible (bottom portion) especially at its base. One other, lesser conspicuous characteristic is a Pewee has a bit of an eye ring lacking on this bird.
>> Now, onto the foot. In a bander's hand, the immediately distinguishable features that separate a Phoebe from a Pewee are the bill color and foot size. Pewees have distinctly tiny feet relative to the size of the bird. The bird in the photo has a foot size resembling that of a Phoebe. This is not a characteristic represented in field guides because it is almost impossible to discern this difference with binocular on a moving bird. But in hand, there is no mistaking it.
>> Is this bird an Eastern Phoebe? Not sure, but likely. Would need to examine the wing for certain feather shapes and measurements to exclude possible Empies. When photographed, was the bird a tail wagger? If so, it greatly increases the probability of it being a Phoebe.
>> Enough wagging for now,
>> Bob Yunick
>> Schenectady, NY
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: R Stewart <2cnewbirds...>
>> To: <VTBIRD...>
>> Sent: Sun, Jul 5, 2020 9:22 pm
>> Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Flycatcher puzzler
>> No expert am I either... but this bird appears to have no? wing bars and
>> all dark bill. I suspect it's a juvl... and I'm voting for Wood Pewee.
>> On Sun, Jul 5, 2020 at 12:04 AM Peter Riley <priley55...> wrote:
>>> I’m no Empi expert but the lack of a bi-colored bill (black upper and
>>> yellow Lower mandibles) and lack of wing bars rule out Willow. I’m thinking
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>> On Jul 4, 2020, at 3:59 PM, David Guertin <dave...> wrote:
>>>> This has been bugging me ever since I saw this flycatcher two days ago.
>>> We're all used to the "ones that got away", those birds that disappear
>>> before you're able to get a positive ID. But in this case I was able to get
>>> a pretty good photo:
>>>> https://www.daveguertin.net/gallery/picture.php?/7677 >>>>
>>>> (Clicking the crossed arrows will make it bigger.)
>>>> When I took this photo, I was walking a gauntlet of hyperactive Least
>>> Flycatchers. I ended up counting seven singing birds in about a half mile.
>>> They never shut up, and this one was right in the middle of them, so
>>> naturally my thoughts never went beyond Least Flycatcher. It's obvious,
>>> right? But then I realized that this bird has no eye ring. Hmm. So maybe
>>> it's not a Least Flycatcher after all.
>>>> On previous days I've occasionally heard a single Willow Flycatcher
>>> singing in this patch (brushy alders and willows in the Otter Creek
>>> floodplain, adjacent to a small patch of riparian forest along the
>>> riverbanks), but he wasn't singing this day.
>>>> There was an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing from the nearby riparian forest
>>> 100 yards or so away, so that's always a possibility too, especially given
>>> the missing eye ring.
>>>> So, any Empidonax experts want to give this one a try? :-)
>>>> Dave G.